The Rasouli family and the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) have won a precedent setting decision at the Supreme Court of Canada in the case: Cutherbertson V Rasouli.
|Rasouli family with lawyers|
at Supreme Court last year.
The Supreme Court of Canada maintained that doctors must raise any objections or concerns they may have about consent to treatment before the Consent and Capacity Board who have the jurisdiction to address any challenges to that consent made by a doctor.
“We are pleased that the Supreme Court has recognized the need for oversight of doctors relative to treatment decisions at the end of life. The Court decision ensures that patient values, beliefs and best interests are given prominence, in conjunction with the clinical considerations of doctors”Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director of the EPC stated:
“There is a real concern about the impact of accuracy of diagnosis and the critical role of patient autonomy in the making of treatment decisions.
EPC is pleased that the Supreme Court of Canada maintained that doctors are not the arbiters of life and death.”The Rasouli case concerned Hassan Rasouli who underwent surgery on October 7, 2010 at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre for a benign brain tumour. He experienced a bacterial meningitis infection that caused him significant cognitive damage.
|Hassan Rasouli with family|
On October 16, Mr Rasouli was placed on a ventilator and a tube was inserted to provide him hydration and nutrition.
His doctors, Cutherbertson and Rubenfeld, determined that Mr. Rasouli was in PVS and decided to withdraw the ventilator, but his wife, Parichehr Salasel, who is also a physician, refused to give consent to the withdrawal of the ventilator.
The Rasouli family insisted that he was not PVS and in fact he was responding. The family was later proven to be correct and his medical condition was upgraded..
The Rasouli family applied to the Superior Court of Justice to obtain an injunction to prevent the doctors at Sunnybrook hospital from unilaterally withdrawing the ventilator.
The case was heard over three days in February and March (2011) and the decision by Justice Himel was released on March 9, 2011.
Justice Himel decided that the Rasouli family did not need an injunction because the doctors are required to obtain consent before withdrawing medical treatment, which in this case was the ventilator.
The doctors appealed the decision of Justice Himel to the Court of Appeal for Ontario.
The Court of Appeal for Ontario unanimously decided that doctors did not have the unilateral right to withdraw life-sustaining treatment, they upheld the role of the Consent and Capacity Board and stated that doctors continue to have the right to seek consent from the Consent and Capacity Board when consent is refused by the person or the attorney for personal care.
The Supreme Court of Canada upheld the unanimous decision of the Court of Appeal for Ontario
Link to the CBC interview with Hugh Scher, EPC legal counsel.
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